Sports Interviews With Morgan Adsit: Will Barton, Portland Trail Blazers Guard
Lake Clifton alumnus Will Barton had to wait longer than anticipated to hear his name called during the NBA draft -- one round, to be exact. The Conference USA Player of the Year out of the University of Memphis was projected as a late-first round pick, but Barton went to Portland during the second round, the 40th pick overall, something he described as nothing new during his basketball career. The guard/forward has been told since day one his slender frame would not hold up in the NBA. Barton said he was ready once again to show critics he's a player.
Will Barton: I'm just blessed and glad that I got the opportunity to get picked in the draft and look forward to doing big things in Portland.
Morgan Adsit: Was Portland on your radar? How many teams were seriously interested in you, heading into draft night?
WB: Out of all the teams they said were interested in me, Portland wasn't one. I didn't know anything about it, just because I knew they picked sixth and 11th. I knew that wasn't in my range. Then they picked late in the second round and we figured I'd be gone by then. We projected about 17th-29th, in that range, so maybe they had interest in me, but they probably thought I wouldn't be there either, so who knows?
MA: When you're projected and you know what you can do, you know what you did at Memphis -- Conference USA Player of the Year last season -- and then you have to wait, how frustrating and difficult was it for you?
WB: It's just something you got to deal with. I mean, early when the draft started, I wasn't too nervous, because I knew my range was 17-29. Once it got to that range, and I'm like: "OK, I should be going somewhere. I should be going somewhere." And then once the boards were at 29, I'm like: "I've got to be going here. My name hasn't been called yet. I know I'm going here," and it didn't happen, and I was a little upset.
MA: Draft day, you're in the gym. The day after, you're in the gym. Was this kind of fuel to the fire, where you fell, and you just feel like, "Hey, I'm going to prove myself once again"?
WB: One of the things that I love is who I am. Basketball is what I do. I mean, if it wasn't for basketball, I wouldn't be here right now. I feel like you got to respect the game and always be working on your game and pay homage, too.
MA: The NBA experts always crack me up, because when you think of the NBA, you know you want the height. You're 6-foot-6. You got that. You got the speed. You were at Memphis. You have to be able to shoot. You can hit the jump shot from anywhere. Statistically speaking, you were the best wingman in the draft, but they're talking about your frame, and it was the same major criticism against Kevin Durant, and I think it worked out fine for him. They're saying you guys were just a little bit skinny and you're going to get pushed around a little bit. Is that an issue that's still something talked about?
WB: They come at me: "He's too skinny to do this. He's too skinny to do that." … I've proven myself at every level. … When are people just going to see that this kid is just going to work his way into whatever he wants to be? Nothing is going to stop him. The weight issue is not going to stop me; it hasn't stopped me.
MA: If you went to Chicago, you wouldn't have been a star right away. Minutes would have been less. Now you have the chance to be a star in Portland. Do you see this as a opportunity and what you want to do?
WB: I'm just going to come in there and compete for playing time and minutes right away. And I know I'm going to have to start my way from the bottom again and climb my way to the top, and I have no problem with that.
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Issue 176: August 2012